Sunday, August 24, 2014

ON STAGE AGAIN:LEONARD STARR REVISITED




One of the sobering aspects of aging is reexamining a lot of the material that thrilled us when we were younger.  As your tastes develop and your vision of the world changes, there is so much of what moved us in earlier days that has lost that magic. So it is always a treat when you see a Hitchcock film, hear Harry Belafonte sing, or reread Raymond Chandler and discover that it still holds up…and in many cases there are layers there that you couldn’t appreciate on your first introduction to the material.









In comics, that always held true for me with both of my childhood idols, Joe Kubert and Leonard Starr.  With Joe’s work there is an emotionalism that drew me into the stories then, and still does today. Because of his work in comic books and the impact of his school, Joe remains a household name among fans. While he probably had more visibility at the time with  the popular On Stage newspaper strip, younger fans are for the most part fairly ignorant of the talented Mr. Starr…until they get a chance to see some of the work.






I often asked myself why as a ten your old kid, I couldn’t wait to get the Sunday Detroit Free Press to read a soap opera?  Yes, a soap opera. This wasn’t Terry and Pirates or Mandrake of the Phantom…but I was gobsmacked every time  I saw an installment. It’s not easy to impress a young lad with a soap opera…but Leonard always managed to do it.  Rereading the work today I can understand why. 








So here’s a few installments from some of the very early years for your enjoyment. You’ll like the fact that the artist used his neighbor, a young Larry Hagman, as one of the characters. And who could miss the similarity between Pete Fletcher and the late, great Jim Gardner. We miss them both.

Next time a Mad Mummy Update!!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MICHIGAN SKETCHES


(Here's the cover for the third issue of Mad Mummy which heads out to iVerse later this week.)


Just got back from a quick  weekend trip I took to Michigan to visit my two sisters. I also saw a few old friends and drove by the house my parents lived in. So much changes, so much remains the same.







I did do a LOT of sketching. I usually pack three different pads. One is about 3” x 4.5 and I keep it in a pocket when I’m out walking and I see something of interest. I also keep a 5” x 7”  book in my car; whenever I have a trip to the doctor or know I’m going to be waiting a bit, I pull it out and doodle away. I also take my formal sketchbook that 11” x 14” that I take to life drawing class. Whatever sketches I do in class I tend to enhance with other drawings that turn them into more complicated compositions. Sometimes it’s a bit of landscape, roughs for planned illustrations, or just doing copies of photos or illustrations that have caught my eye. 










Oftentimes I will hear from folks, many times other artists, that they wished they had more time to draw. Like anything else, you have to find the time, of which there is rarely a shortage, and do the work. It’s all about love and practice. Of course, I’m fortunate enough that I don’t have a “smart” phone to continually distract me so I can use all that spare time to draw and record.






(Here is the frontpiece for issue 4 of Mad Mummy...
you can see the little rough I used to plan it out above.)

The first two issues of the books are available through iVerse/ComicsPlus at:
http://digital.comicsplusapp.com/publishers.php
Then type in AV Publishing or Mad Mummy in the SEARCH button.

Monday, July 28, 2014

MAD MUMMY- MEETING OF THE SEVEN





(This is the frontpiece for issue #4. Never let it be said that you can't use great
reference more than once. Thanks ,Sara!)

(And this is the pencil for the cover of issue #3. My homage to  King Kirby.)

This week I finished the rough pencils on the fifth issue of The Mad Mummy. The story incorporates two of my favorite characters from fiction, Harry Flashman and Dr.  Fu Manchu, and I had a great time drawing them even if I can't identify them by name in the story. In terms of chronology, the story takes place right after Flashman 1860 adventure in China with the Tai Ping rebellion, and involves a meeting of the Council of the Seven of the Si Fan with our hero Aten Ra and a very young Fu Manchu .

For the latter, I pulled out all the reference I could find on the mummy of Seti I, which Sax Rohmer described as his physical model for the Doctor. Of course, despite having the silly mustache named after him, Fu Manchu never had any facial hair. And the ideal Flashman was of course Errol Flynn, who not only had the physical attributes of the character, but lived a lifestyle that would have made even Harry jealous.








While my friends are always asking me if I'm the model for Aten Ra, the Mad Mummy, I have to insist that I am not. For the face in general I have a folder on actor Ralph Fiennes, and the only time my likeness comes into it is when I'm trying to get a cartoony facial expression.  And I somehow doubt that Mr. Fiennes would take it as a compliment that I am being mistaken for him, or that I used him as the basis for a mummy.







In issue six, the back story of Aten Ra (now known as Adam Ray) continues in 1928 in Egypt when he once again meets the Chinese doctor, who is now extremely ancient, and his daughter Fah L Suee who is the reincarnation of Aten's estranged lost love, Ankhesenamun. The story explains Aten Ra's part in helping create the elixir vitae that restores Fu Manchu's life force. In issue seven, this triangle continues in the late 30's, and eventually reaches it's conclusion in current time where the doctor has finally retired to the beaches of Malibu. Lots of fun things to draw.







The first two issues of the books are available through iVerse/ComicsPlus at:
http://digital.comicsplusapp.com/publishers.php
Then type in AV Publishing or Mad Mummy in the SEARCH button.

I  thought I would ad the favorite portrait of me that was done by my friend Matt Crosby during a lifedrawing session back in Battle Creek Michigan many years ago. I think the picture says it all.